The end.......and a new beginning.
That time of year has come again. At least on the river I fish. Everyone must come to their own decision on when to quit fishing for winter fish. Each river is different and each angler must take into account several factors like run timing and the presence of spawning fish in the system. Using your best judgement, and taking into account the various indicators please make an informed decision. Do whats best for the fish.
Stay off spawning redds, in fact stay away from them entirely as the area of egg deposit is not always concentrated in the zone that looks most disturbed. Many thousands of eggs can lodge or settle in areas downstream of the main redd. When in doubt stay out! Be aware of this for trout and all anadromous fish in all seasons.
In addition, many redds will be very visible for a time and then become less easy to see because of dirt and debris that can cover them caused by fluctuating water levels. Just because the redd is not visible anymore or you don't see active spawning doesn't mean the area is safe to walk in. Be aware of the type of ground you are standing in at all times. When you suspect fish may be spawning in the area, you may want to just wind it up and go play golf.
On a year like this last one, I believe many fish spawned early due to the favorable water temps and flows. The fish that are still coming in are ready to spawn and are going straight to the beds. Again, I cant tell you when to quit fishing, that is up to you. But, think about the effect you might have on potentially thousands of fish just so you can catch one more.
The greatest tragedy that can occur at this time of year is catching a prime hen or buck that spills eggs or milt when you bring him/her in. Don't let it happen to you!
For me, this time of year is a time to recharge my battery, hang with the family, tie some flies and stock up some fly boxes. It is a time of rest, growth and rebirth. It is a time that needs to happen in the cycle of life.
Hope you had a good winter season and summer is just around the corner!
Enjoy your rest and get ready for a new season to come!